Lafayette Expungement Attorney
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Mistakes from your past that resulted in an arrest, charge, or conviction can continue to impact your life long after you have paid the resulting fines or completed any punishments ordered by the courts. Potential employers, landlords, lenders, professional associations, and others can often access the records of these past incidents, making it difficult for you to move forward as a respected and productive member of the community. Your past doesn’t have to define you, and you should not have to continue to pay for mistakes you made years ago. Often, you don’t have to. If you have legal records in Tippecanoe County that you wish would disappear from public record, you should talk with a Lafayette expungement attorney about whether sealing your record is a possibility in your situation.
A Lafayette Expungement Attorney Can Help with a Fresh Start
Including both the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette and their surrounding communities, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, finds itself home to a large, fluctuating population, especially with more than 40,000 students attending Purdue University each year. With Big Ten events and miles of parks and recreational areas, the courts in the communities see a fair amount of first-time offenders with charges like public intoxication, possession of marijuana, and theft.
Mistakes are regrettable, and they can impact your future. Prospective landlords, employers, lenders, educational institutions, and licensing entities can, with the click of a button, conduct background checks using the Indiana State Police site or Indiana’s online case history portal.
Indiana’s Second Chance Law, however, provides some relief to people who worry about the mistakes of the past or have encountered the obstacles a legal or criminal record can create. A greater Lafayette expungement attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you determine if you qualify for an Indiana expungement and, if so, how to go about obtaining one to get the fresh start you seek.
A Lafayette Expungement Attorney Explains How Expungement Works
Indiana Code chapter 35-38-9 allows for the sealing of certain criminal records. Even though a criminal history cannot be entirely erased, the statute makes access to such a record either impossible or difficult for the general public.
Courts and law enforcement agencies and personnel can still access expunged records in some situations, such as, for example, if you were to be charged with a crime or crimes in the future. However, the advantage of expungement is that, if or when you are questioned about a previous criminal record upon applying for a job, a professional license, or other privilege, you do not have to disclose or answer affirmatively about expunged convictions or arrests. Denial of housing or employment on the basis of an expunged criminal record in Indiana can even be considered discrimination in some cases.
What Records Can Be Expunged?
Everyone makes mistakes in life or gets into situations they wish they hadn’t. It makes sense that many people later seek relief from the mistakes of the past, not wanting to continue to suffer or be punished for something that was addressed and should be put behind them. Indiana law allows this to happen in certain cases through the expungement of criminal records. Various records may be sealed by an Indiana expungement:
- Arrest information
- Charges filed
- Juvenile delinquency allegations
- Vacated convictions
- Vacated delinquency adjudications
- Some misdemeanor convictions
- Some felony convictions
Successful sealing or expungement restricts access to records found in these places:
- The presiding court
- The Indiana Department of Correction
- The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Services or providers of court-ordered services or treatment
Can All Records Be Expunged?
Some felony convictions are not eligible for an Indiana expungement. Records that cannot be expunged in the Hoosier state include the following:
- Conviction of an elected official while serving in an official term or as a candidate for public office
- Conviction as a violent or sex offender
- Conviction of a felony that resulted in serious bodily injury to another person
- Conviction of various crimes in the following categories:
- Official misconduct
- Human and sexual trafficking
- Sex crimes
If you are unsure whether your records fall into a category that may be eligible for expungement in Tippecanoe County, contact a Lafayette expungement attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP to schedule a case evaluation.
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How Do I Get My Record Expunged in Lafayette, Indiana?
The process for expunging records in Indiana involves identifying and gathering all records and information related to the previous incident or incidents and the resulting legal proceedings and then petitioning for expungement in the courts of the counties where the incidents occurred. It is critical to note that you can apply for an expungement only once, and this applies to all of the counties where any arrest, charge, or conviction occurred. You can best prepare by taking a few steps:
- Make a list of all of the criminal records, in any county, you are seeking to have expunged
- Include in the list the specific dates of your arrests
- If possible, include the names of the arresting officers and of the law enforcement department or agency involved
- Indicate for each incident whether charges were filed and, if so, include in the list the case caption, the cause number, the exact charges filed, the status of the charges (dismissed, convicted, acquitted), and the dates and actions of any related appellate court decisions
The process to request and obtain an Indiana expungement is complicated. Getting it right the first time is critical because you cannot again seek expungement for the same case if your request is denied. This is one reason why the assistance of a Tippecanoe expungement attorney is so valuable. With your future and reputation on the line, the counsel of an experienced Lafayette expungement lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of your petition.
Indiana Expungement Statutes
Expungement is designed to provide a fresh start, but every person has a unique situation and set of current and past circumstances. One advantage to using a Lafayette expungement attorney when you request an expungement in Tippecanoe County or elsewhere in Indiana is that you will not have to guess which expungement provision applies to you. An experienced attorney will know the related laws, the process, the local court and legal systems and those involved in both, and the general best practices for gathering information, submitting a petition, and following up as needed to get the job done.
Arrests and Convictions
The section of the Second Chance Law that applies in your case depends on what kind of records you want to expunge. Those records could include the following, and expungement should be pursued as dictated by the related statute in the Indiana Code:
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-1 for arrest records or juvenile delinquency records
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-2 for misdemeanor convictions
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-3 for minor Class D and Level 6 felony convictions
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-4 for less serious felony convictions
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-5 for certain serious felony convictions
- Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8.5 for certain offenses punishable by an indeterminate sentence
Unique circumstances or unforeseen problems can complicate matters. For the expungement to have full force and effect, the petitioner (or a qualified Lafayette expungement attorney as his or her legal representative) needs to know how to determine which provision or provisions of the law apply, which records can be expunged, and how to submit all necessary materials to the appropriate court or courts.
Pre-trial diversion is an option sometimes offered to first-time misdemeanor offenders in Indiana. Even with a successful diversion, however, the records of an arrest for the offense are still accessible. Expungement can help in this area as well. Once records are expunged, access to those records is restricted as described previously.
The more serious the offense, the longer an individual must wait to seek an expungement of the record of that offense. Your Lafayette expungement lawyer can help determine which time period applies to you. The law changes periodically, and it is vital that your Tippecanoe County expungement attorney is up-to-date on all current statutes and amendments. In 2020, for example, Senate Bill 47 clarified that the applicable time period for felony convictions that are later reduced to misdemeanors begins on the date of the felony conviction, not the date that the conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor.
In general, the time periods a person must wait before requesting expungement of records range from one year for arrests and juvenile adjudications to ten years for serious felony convictions. Because you may only petition for an Indiana expungement once, it is critical that you or your attorney have correctly determined the time frames to request expungement for each arrest, charge, or conviction.
Need a Fresh Start? Contact a Lafayette Expungement Attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP
The qualifications and requirements for expungement are cumbersome. With only one chance at a second chance, you cannot afford to make mistakes. The Indiana State Police and other governmental entities can provide information about the expungement process but cannot give you legal advice. With a greater Lafayette expungement attorney helping you along the way, you will have the confidence of knowing that you are taking the right steps, in the right order, at the right times to effectively and efficiently achieve expungement of your records.